-H.M.S. Hood Association Online Archive-
May 2002 H.M.S. Hood Association Reunion
Updated 06-May-2014

Our own Frank Allen and Paul Bevand wrote the following account of this years events. The photos seen here were taken by Frank, Paul and representatives of H.M.S. Collingwood.

chainbar divider

Sunday, 19 May 2002- Boldre Church Service
The public and Association members gathered at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Boldre for the annual service of commemoration. The leadership of the Hood Association was represented by Commander Keith Evans (Ret). A number of veterans plus family members of those who served or were lost were also present. This service also marked the first time that Ted Briggs has not been present. Ted will no longer be able to regularly attend the Boldre service but instead, will continue to attend the Association's official service at St Georges Church, Portsea.

As always, following the service, our Treasurer, Ken "Nobby" Clark did his usual successful trade: There were a number of new memberships and many sales of Association slops items that day! Also present was modeller supreme, Colin Vass. Colin had once again brought his superb model of Hood. This model is normally on display at the Portsmouth Naval Museum (Lewin Gallery), but he checks it out from time to time for special occasions such as this.

Saturday 25 May 2001- Annual General Meeting and 27th Reunion Dinner
Approximately 80 members and guests from the UK, Australia and USA gathered at the Royal Sailors Home Club for this years proceedings.

Rob White, Paul Bevand, Peter Heys and Frank Allen
Peter Heys
(Click to enlarge)

At 1630 hours members assembled in Brock's Bar for the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Various Association-related items and propositions were discussed. Elections were also held. Due to his poor health, JR Williams stepped down as Chairman of the Association. He had unwavingly led the Association for 17 years. Peter Heys, formerly Vice Chairman, was voted in as the new Chairman. Commander Keith Evans was voted in to be the new Vice Chairman. The other posts remained the same. JR will continue to serve as an advisor to the Association Committee.

At 1900 hours, everyone gathered in the adjacent ballroom. While waiting for the ceremonies to commence, people viewed a huge photo & information layout created by the websites own Paul Bevand. Though similar to the 2001 Reunion, this years layout was much larger: It consisted of numerous photos of Hood, a number of related records and articles, plus about 380 individual photos of men lost in the sinking. Needless to say, Paul and Frank had very sore thumbs after setting this all up (we went through literally hundreds of pushpins!). In addition to the photos and information displayed, also present was a copy of the actual Roll of Honour that is on the CD within the plaque laid at the wreck last year. Also present was a compilation of correspondence related to last years drive to make Hood a "Protected Place" under the Protection of Military Remains Act of 1986 (PMRA 1986).

People also gathered in the Brocks Bar to watch a videocassette containing raw footage of Hood's wreck. It was very kind of Rob White and David Mearns to provide this as it gave many veterans and family members to see much more than they did through the Channel 4 coverage in 2001.

We had some special guests this year: Commodore PL Wilcocks, D.S.C., A.D.C. of H.M.S. Collingwood and Lieutenant John Gordon also of Collingwood. The Commodore, a Falklands and Gulf War combat veteran is also the nephew of Eric Wilcocks, one of the men lost in the sinking of Hood. Lieutenant Gordon is the Associations new Parade Commander. In addition to our distinguished guests, we also had some prominent Association members present- 3 men from the team who discovered the wreck last July: David Mearns, Rob White and of course, Dr Eric Grove.

Two Association members came from considerable distances away to attend this years events: James Warrand of Australia and our webmaster, Frank Allen of the USA. James, is the brother of Hood Association Vice President Joanna Warrand and the son of Hood's final navigator, Commander SJP "John" Warrand.

Lastly, we had a few members of the public in attendance (they weren't members of the public long though, as they joined the Association that night!). Of course, at the same time a number of "regulars" were unable to attend- Reg, one of the "Boys from Leicester" was out sick, as was the "Foreign Secretary", John England. Also unable to attend were Mike Ware and his lovely wife.

We had the same delightful 5 course meal as last year- excellent roast Norfolk turkey. This was followed by a variety of cheeses and wine plus coffee and desert. After the dinner there followed the speeches and toasts: The Queen, The Guest of Honour, the Ladies and of course, Absent Friends.

Keith Evans
Keith Evans
(Click to enlarge)

Following the toasts, Association Chaplain Reverend Ron Paterson (Hood 1933-1936) passed the microphone around the centre table. Everyone at the table, from the Commodore all the way down to the website chaps, got the chance to introduce themselves in turn. That was followed by a wonderful speech by our Guest of Honour, Commander Keith Evans. Keith served in Hood from 1938-1939 as midshipman. He told us about his career and included several humorous jokes and anecdotes. It was a delightful and refreshingly humorous speech. As the Guest of Honour, he received a wonderful present- a bell.

David Mearns
David Mearns
(Click to enlarge)

Next, we heard from the man who led the July 2001 Channel 4 expedition to find Hood, David Mearns. David spoke about the expedition and thanked the Association members for their unwavering support of the mission. He also addressed the drive to make Hood a protected place.

David also told us about his "latest work": he has become a father. He and his wife adopted a child recently and then found out that they were expecting twins as well! So, needless to say, the Mearns are starting out large! We wish them the best of luck.

James Warrand
James Warrand
(Click to enlarge)

James Warrand also spoke that evening about his branch of the Royal Naval Association as well as his thoughts on the expedition. Following the speech he produced two bottle of Pussers Rum (the good stuff!) and treated us all to a drink. Most people had at least one, but a few of us had a bit more!

The remainder of the evening was composed of the annual raffle (with very nice prizes) as well as some dancing. People mostly gathered to share memories and a drink or two. It was well after midnight by the time we all had left the ballroom.

Sunday, 26 May 2002- St. Georges Church Service
Many of us started out with a traditional English breakfast. Following breakfast, most members gathered in the Compass Room of the Home Club for drinks and conversation until it was time to assemble for the march to church.

Marching to church
Marching to Church
(Click to enlarge)

At approximately 1045 hours, members began to assemble outside the Club. We formed ranks, and accompanied by Parade Commander Lieutenant John Gordon, honour guard from HMS Collingwood plus the charming young Sea Cadet band of TS Tenacity, we set off on the short march to St. Georges Church, Portsea. We in the formation were a diverse mixture of men and women of all ages (from 5 to nearly 102!). As always, family members and friends marched alongside former crew of Hood. Like last year, we did have a few drops of rain, but it was very brief. If only the wind had been brief as well! It must have been blowing at Force 7 at times!

In attendance were many members of the Hood Association as well as Commodore Wilcocks and his good lady wife Kym. Additionally, JR Williams, previous Chairman of the Hood Association attended. Though in frail health, he even "marched" in the parade to St Georges (with a little help from Paul Bevand).

All seats were filled for this years service. It was conducted by the Associations Chaplain, Reverend Ron Paterson, MBE and the Parish Priest, Reverend Robert Orchin, SCP. This was Reverend Orchin's third service for the H.M.S. Hood Association.

The H.M.S. Hood Association standard was placed atop the altar. The wreath was laid by Bill Stone (Hood veteran, 1923-24). Reverend Paterson then delivered his sermon. Commodore Wilcocks read the lesson. We were also treated to a robust rendition of "All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor" by "Young Bill" Stone (who will be 102 years old this September).

Following the service, members assembled for the march back to the Home Club. Due to the wind, we had a somewhat smaller group in the march back! Once we made it back to the area outside the Club, many people gathered to chat, take photos and share a drink or several. A few people gathered in the restaurant and in the Nuffield Bar and spent the afternoon. People began to disperse throughout the afternoon.

Additional Photos
Below are assorted photos from the reunion and memorial services. Click to enlarge.

Frank Allen, Eric Grove and Paul Bevand    Marching from St Georges Church    The march from the church to the Home Club    The wreath in St Georges Church
Marching from St Georges Church    The march from the church to the Home Club    Marching from St Georges Church    The march from the church to the Home Club